Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sturgeon's Law As A General Principle

     Under a government where both parties, no matter how much they quibble with one another, both approve of wiretapping (listening to celphones, monitoring online communications)  citizens with no real warrant, maintaining a secret and unchallengeable "no-fly" list and torture as a means of interrogation, remaining loyal to either party is just letting them play you for a fool.

     The actual government in this country is an oligarchy of influential and (eventually if not to begin with) wealthy persons, membership in which is largely closed to most citizens.  They may squabble over the fine points but they close ranks against any outside challenge.  All they're in it for is themselves,, no matter how much they natter on about public service, posterity or the beleaguered taxpayer.  If you get in their way, they will grind you up but in general, they regard you the way an old-fashioned farmer regards barn cats: disposable conveniences.  Get inconvenient and...  Well. There are plenty more.

The Government Wants To Help Veterans With PTSD -- By Putting Chips In Their Brains

     Massachussetts, still and always the cradle and grave of freedom!

     Who doesn't support stuffing circuitry inside people's skulls to ensure they only think Goodthink?  MIT's got a grant to dust off the 40-year-old research (PDF) and get it running.  From the horse's, er, whatever:
     Darin Dougherty, a psychiatrist who directs Mass General’s division of neurotherapeutics, says one aim could be to extinguish fear in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Fear is generated in the amygdala—a part of the brain involved in emotional memories. But it can be repressed by signals in another region, the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex. “The idea would be to decode a signal in the amygdala showing overactivity, then stimulate elsewhere to [suppress] that fear,” says Dougherty.
     Where's that line to sign up?

     Also, consider,  “The idea would be to decode a signal in the amygdala showing overactivity, then stimulate elsewhere to [suppress] that fear,” and ask yourself what other military applications there might be for fear-suppressing brain machinery.

     It's a helluva a world.  I may have another 30 or 40 years in it and I've stopped looking forward to them.  Fearless brain-wired solders are only one of the more obvious little clouds on the horizon.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Better Mood

    So that's something.  Now I need to get find out if the dryer really is working now. Yep, some fun.

     Update: it is.  This is good.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wow, Am I Ever In A Crappy Mood

     I thought I had managed to dodge Birthday Depression this year.  Nope.

You Know What Would Make Me Happy?

     I'll tell you what would make me happy: the entire United States Congress and all of their staffs, out of work and lined up at highway exits, panhandling -- and getting darned little except the occasional thrown nickel.

     Sure, it's cruel, arbitrary and unfair, but hey, "as ye sow, so shall ye reap."  'Scroom.  Down to the last and least of 'em.  Time for a new and less-entrenched band of crooks, nitwits and schemers.

Wimmen: You Can't Leave Earth Without Us!

     NBC has some new show "coming soon" with a female NASA engineer in the 1960s, which I'm figuring for an anachronism-fest of the first order, likely with risible "science" for a bonus.  After snickering at them, I began to wonder--

     You see, networks aren't very original and engineering is one of those things that either you can do it or you can't and it's objectively demonstrable which. While historically it wasn't easy for women to get such work, it did start getting more and more possible though the 20th Century.  A talented, determined female rocket engineer (or six) might've worked at NASA even back in the unreconstructed 1960s. Was there a real-world counterpart to the TV-program premise?

     Oh, is there ever!  The U.S. wouldn't've gotten our first successful satellite into orbit without her -- and you've probably never heard of her: Mary Sherman Morgan, who worked out the high specific-impulse fuel that gave von Braun's Jupiter C enough oomph to get Explorer 1 high enough and fast enough to circle the globe.

     If you scroll to the bottom of the Wikipedia article, there's a hint, perhaps, of where NBC got their idea.  History is, yet again, more impressive than fiction.

 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me

     Happy Birthday to me.  Happy happy, happy birthday, happy birthday to me.

     Hahahahahaha.

     It's a wonder they don't have to talk me in off a ledge every May 28th, but I'll take that wonder, thank you very much.

Oscar Wilde, Updated

     "We're all standing in the gutter, but some of us are barking at the Moon."
  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Indiana State Museum

     Indiana has had a State Museum for a long time now.  It spent a long time housed -- somewhat awkwardly -- in the old City Hall (after the city government had gone Unigov and slunk off down the block and across Market Street to roost in the City-County Building) until getting a bespoke building along White River State Park, wedged in between the Eiteljorg and NCAA's  Hall of Champions.  Like many such museums, it's a great mess of natural history, cultural history, political history,  archeology and art, fussed into coherence by a dedicated band of curators.  They run a nice Imax theatre, too, one of the first in the city.

     The Data Viking visited yesterday and he and Tam and I spent half the day or more in the museum:

Mind Control!

People used to paint caves after nightmares like this, you know.

"I for one--" No.  No, I do not welcome our armored-squid overlords.  Oh hells no.

This kitty would fit right in at my house -- especially if it brought enough wild hog to share.

Surprisingly, this was not made the State motto.
Used to be in my boss's boss's boss's office. Unsurprisingly, he was Don Burton.

Fuzzy image but it turns out one of my friends used to use this mike at work -- not one like it, this one.
     An interesting time was had by all, including a couple of (45-minute) documentaries in the Imax

Hey, You Guys...

     I can see the Statehouse from here!
     At the Indiana State Museum.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Decoration Day

     Call it Memorial Day, if you'd rather; these days, and despite our recent pair of undeclared wars, Americans spend little time at the cemetery leaving flowers and flags for the honored dead.

     Perhaps we should be taking that time; perhaps seeing the price, tallied up in the lives of men (and women) who stood up when it counted and fell in the doing, would serve as a reminder that war's bill always comes due.  The first generation that did so, in the wake of a bloody internecine war, knew the price full well, in lost sons, brothers and husbands.  There was little they could do except honor their memory.

     This day is not about politicians or policy.  It's not about parades and brass bands, either, though you may see one or two.  This day is for all those who never came back.

     Maybe you can't leave a wreath.  Spare the dead a moment nevertheless, no matter what you think of the war that killed them: they went and stood between you and "war's desolation."  Remember them.  Don't let their deaths go for naught.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

...A Techie's Work...

     Annnd, I've got to go into work.  Emergency service.  With a smile.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Owls!

     It was twilight. I was headed out to the garage to start a quick bike ride when one glided by over my head and flapped its wings twice: a huge, silent owl.

     Tam and I have heard them, singing away near the Monon, strange, tropical sounds and the occasional ghostly screech.  I'd never seen them until this one sailed overhead just as I opened the person-sized door to the garage and while I stared, fascinated, another shadowed me, wings out, steering, soundless.

     They sailed across backyards and came to rest along the alley, dipping out of sight towards a tree.  I watched them, amazed, and once they landed, reached in the garage and pushed the button to raise the big door, thinking, "I hope they don't leave."

     I stepped back to mark again where they'd gone to roost, and another owl went by, dipping and climbing, finally spilling air and coming to rest on the Power & Light pole behind the house two doors north.

     I got my bike out as quietly as I could and pedaled up the alley.  The third owl was still on the crossarm of the power pole, making a fourth squat gray shape next to the three petticoated, gray insulators on it.  A bit frowsy-looking, some feathers sticking out, it goggled solemnly down at me as I rode slowly past, both of us turning our heads to keep eye contact.

     A few houses up the alley and on the other side, another owl sat on a tree branch, orbited by three or four small and furious songbirds it seemed to not bother to notice.  Sleeker and maybe larger than the other one, it, too gave me the owlish eye, blinking slowly as if wondering what kind of creature I might be.

     Never did spot the third but those two stayed in their spots for at least ten minutes, pivoting their heads to stare me right in the eye every time I rode up or down the alley, still trying to work out, in their slow owlish way, what manner of creature it was that moved atop a 36" wheel and stared at owls.  On one lap, I stopped and told Tam through the window what was haunting our alley; she was suitably impressed.

     Eventually, they owls moved on and so did I.  They may be barn owls; they're about the right size and the sounds are a good match, though this would be early for them to be out, as the sun was on the horizon.  Was this trio two adults and one recently-fledged juvenile?  Maybe.

     In any event: Owls.  Wow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Vanished, Genteel Past...

     So, you turned on the radio this morning and your local (or imported via satellite) shock jock drove you back to your iPlayer?  Heated political rhetoric had you wishing for that earlier, more-refined day, of commentary from H. V. Kaltenborn and announcers required to wear formal attire just to hawk soap flakes and car tires?

     Oh, nostalgia, rose-tinted spectacles and all...!  Dream, on, Yankee -- that ain't half the story.  This country's first loud-mouthed, opinionated talker (and spinner of records) first took the air about 1924 and quickly began providing "...plenty of verbal pyrotechnics—bawl out somebody unmercifully—give them a good show. Whether or not they like what he is telling it, they listen and come back for more."   The formula sounds terribly familiar today but William K. Henderson of Shreveport, Louisiana invented it on KWKH and kept at it for nearly nine years until the predecessor of today's FCC finally pressured him into selling the station.  To the modern ear, he's got a little something to drop on everyone's toes, from plain rudeness to casual racism to lambasting Republican Herbert Hoover and "chain stores,"* and he makes Howard Stern sound like a Cub Scout.

     That idealized past?  Yeah, that--  Better ask Grandma: it was never quite so shiny as it looks now.
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* Yes, kids, he hated Walmart before there were any; he loathed the GOP before George Bush ever trod this Earth.  Ponder on that awhile.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meanwhile, The Prayer Of Cats Underfoot:

     "Oh, Food Monkey, great and clumsy Food Monkey, what have you brought us?  What gifts will tumble carelessly down to us from Thy plate?"

Does Not Compute! Does Not Compute!

     Here, let this soak in a bit...
     It gets better: I went to have a look at their website and they're asserting copyright in the group's name.  Umm, if groups of people don't have the same rights as the individuals comprising that group, then...

     There are a number of serious issues around corporate personhood, limitations of liability, and so on, none of which fit neatly on a bumper sticker.  "Fixing" them by muzzling is overly simplistic, if not downright destructive -- especially when the folks agitating to do it are themselves a corporation, or as good as.  Bit of what the Brits call an "own goal," isn't it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dear MGI

     I totally get the "Hydra" name and logo; it makes sense.  But sheesh, if you're going to have that for your motto and you don't have at least one image of a tyrannosaur clutching your product?  You are sooooo missing a perfect fit!

     (In other news, I will be buying one of their T-shirts and adding an iron-on t. rex to the front of it.  Oh, yeah. Got to.)

I Must Still Be Sick

     Tam is in the next room, apparently playing Spin The Dial:

     TV: Woosh, click, "...at's our forecast..." Click, "Avoid real estate unless it is thoroughly cooked!  Otherwise it can be tough, like a hockey puck."  ...[Burst of music]

     RX: "What?!?!"

     Tam: [Laughs]

     Okay then.

     Update, 10:47 a.m.: I swear I just woke up to an ad that ended with a picture of a sunset and an overly mellow announcer crooning, "...enjoy the taste of a premium gasoline."  By the perpetual candidacy of Screaming Lord Sutch, what have you people got up to?  Admit it, you've broken reality again, haven't you?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Return Of The AK-15?

     I'm a year and two months late in noticing, but notorious plagiarist-artist Shepard Fairey has managed to resurrect the AR-47:

     Yep, there it is.  Given his history, I don't feel bad about showing an excerpt -- "Fair Use" an' all that -- but if you must see the original, get over to HuffPo, and don't say I didn't warn you; the usual dunderheaded pap is being ladled out.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fighting A Cold

     Yes, I have a cold of some sort -- sore throat, congestion, dizziness.  I've been mostly in bed since Friday night. 

     And I've got to be at work at 0300 Monday.  Yeech.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I'm Back From The Dayton Hamvention

     Yes, I'm back.  No Prosciutto. They did have brats, but I had a hamburger instead.

     There was all manner of geekery on display, and despite weather so rainy that we missed about a third of the flea market, I had a great time and I hope Turk Turon did, too.   When a storm blew through about four o'clock, the flea market folks all covered up and once it was over, there was only about an hour left.  So they did what the rest of us did: mill around inside, where there are also plenty of interesting things.

     Alas, a scratchy throat that morning was a bit more so when we returned and I've got a full-fledged sore throat this morning. And etc.  Slept in and that helped.  Also had a calf cramp at some point and the usual knot has me limping.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  Yes, it was.  

It's a cart machine.  A first-generation one!

Homemade transmitter -- pretty sure the cabinet was once a Motorola two-way base transmitter, 1950s-vintage.

The light blue think is a Racal receiver, a very high-end communications receiver from the UK.  They don't make 'em like that any more, but they should.

Tools, tools, tools!

Scale-model towers -- scaled for the two-meter ham band, just above 140 MHz.  Yes, they work.
     I didn't get a photo of the guy with a blue LED-covered antenna hat, who need a radiation warning trefoil T-shirt to complete the look, but there are plenty of other snapshots to share, and more to follow.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Road Trip!

     I'm off to the Dayton Hamvention!  Early departure.  Hope to snap some photos.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Phone Cops

     It was a different day.  We leased our phones from The Phone Company--

     --And woe betide the customer who abused one.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What The Hunh? New Jersey Deputy Attorneys General Organize As IBEW

     I admit it, I have a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for the idea of skilled-trades unions.  There was a day -- on the far side of the Great Depression -- when skilled workers organized and shared their skills, producing a pool of, yes, organized labor, but organized labor that arrived with the knowledge and training to do the job.  The various trades had their various AF of L unions; each one had their patch and they stuck to it -- electricians didn't plaster walls, steamfitters didn't crowd out machinists, and so on.  Unlike the later CIO unions, they didn't organize outside their trade: their deal was they delivered the skills and the employer paid 'em union scale.

     All that is history.  The fed.gov rewrote the rules back when my parents were starting elementary school.  The traditional skilled-trade unions more-or-less stayed inside their own lines (and some of them, notably IBEW, ran training and apprenticeship programs) but it was largely a matter of habit.

     Over in the suit and tie world, lawyering has long been (or at least considered itself) a profession.  In the U.S., persons called to the bar can be (and often are) handed the courtesy title "Esquire" to waggle after their names.  (You can use it, too; it has no legal standing -- but use it to pass yourself off as an attorney and you'll soon feel their official wrath and that of the .gov so many of 'em work for.)

     So, on the one hand, we have the skilled-trade laborer, inheritor of a justifiably-proud tradition.  You may not like his union's politics -- he might not, either -- but it does stand for more than picket lines and hard-fought contracts.  He (or she) works with hands and brain.   On the other, professionals with post-graduate degrees.  They may labor in genteel poverty (law school isn't cheap and the vast majority of legal work doesn't pay all that well; the rich lawyer is a real thing but he rests upon a vast pool of J.D.'d scriveners who make less than a journeyman plumber) but it is indeed genteel.  The heaviest tool an attorney lifts is a pen.  They couldn't be more different, could they?

     Not in New Jersey!  Deputy ADAs there have, after a long fight, got themselves a union.  Not the Teamsters (amazing, really -- this is New Jersey we're talking about), not some "Worshipful Guild of Barristers," conjured from whole cloth to serve their special needs, nope, they've joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers!

     'Scuse me, what?  Yep.  The same organization that spent a lot of time and effort as the 19th Century became the 20th, leaning on Power & Light companies to provide linesmen with insulated pliers (and convincing the linesmen to use 'em) is repping a bunch of State-employed attorneys. And don't ask me what's going to happen the next time some union pension turns out to have been mismanaged and the union get hauled before the court; a whole lot of recusing, I'd suppose.

     Whatever became of, "Cobbler, stick to thy last?"  And whatever became of the legal profession? 

     Well, it is New Jersey.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thinking Of Music

     ...And of deeply decent people: here's Brubeck:

     Yes, his piano's pretending to be a koto, here and there.  Pretty well, too.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Borrowing Outrage At A Ruinious Rate Of Interest

     (Via a hot tip from The Unwanted Blog) NPR, never a mob to blink at swallowing camels while straining at gnats, is anguished -- anguished! -- to discover what they're calling "the racist roots" of the old familiar ice cream truck song.

     Yeah, yeah, you probably thought it was Turkey In The Straw, and if you grew up on a steady diet of animated cartoons, the tune (along with the similar The Arkansas Traveler) conjures up images of rural America.  It probably ought to make you think of rural England or Scotland instead; that's where it came from, as The Old Rose Tree.  Nobody know how old it is -- as far back as folk music's been written down, it was there. It's been quoted as far afield as Brubeck's Unsquare Dance (in 7/4 time!).  The tune belongs to all of us, perhaps no one more than the small children who take the tinkling, eight-bit version wafting across summer laws as their cue to swap hoarded coins for sweet, chilly treats.

     And like a lot of things that go way back in American history, it took some terrible turns between The Old Rose Tree and your neighborhood purveyor of frosty calories: that simple, catchy tune was appropriated for 19th-Century minstrel shows, and for the kind of mockery that passed for light entertainment on gramophone records in the early years of the 20th.  Yep.  It happened.  Plenty worse happened, too, and we learned better, painfully, by and by. While simple types like you and me might think the crew at Warner's Termite Terrace and their peers elsewhere in Hollywood (and on the radio and, later, television) had redefined the racism right back out of that sequence of notes, we would, per NPR, be wrong.  But even their Fellow On The Suburban Front Lines, after duly agonizing over a past he never set foot in and his kids can barely comprehend, has to admit, "I will smile and hand over money from my pocket. The sight of my children enjoying a Good Humor ice cream bar will fight back the racist song..."

     Except it wasn't "a racist song" to begin with -- and decent people have been busily reclaiming it longer than he's been alive.  Geez, eat your ice cream.

No, No, No

     ...See, when something's askew, wrong, ill-fitting?  It does not jibe.  Now, if someone can't hack the patois, if they're not hip to the sprach, unable to doubletalk and befuddle The Man, then -- and only then, my brother, my cousin, my no-relative-of-mine, may you say that they do not -- cannot! -- jive.

     But I should'a knowed you'd hone right in on that, no doubt as a part of your constant homing of your linguistic skills.

     Pfui!  Next person pulls one of those, I'm gonna throw my Unabridged at him.  'Salright, I've got a spare -- 'cos "Two is one and one is none," and a goodly number of persons, many of them in possession of keyboards, appear to be well down in the negative numbers.

     Look, there are plenty of common spoken contractions and slang terms you may sensibly use in writing, especially informal writing, but there are other spoken usages that are just plain wrong.  The people who use 'em have never seen the correct versions and probably don't read much other than cereal boxes and the sports pages, lips moving as they do.  Don't let them haul you back down into the crab bucket.

The Maltese Falcon

     As of week before last, I'd never read the book nor seen the film.  Finished the book a couple of days ago.  Just watched the movie.

     Humphrey Bogart doesn't look a darned thing like Dashiell Hammett's[1] character.  It doesn't matter; he plays the part with verve and conviction. The film is a strikingly faithful adaptation of the book; the only major omissions are mandated by the Hays Code; one helps the plot along (IMO) and another is famously subverted with disconcerting glee by Peter Lorre.[2]

     It's a bizarrely-convoluted story, more thriller than conventional mystery, and more fun than noir generally is.  Recommended, and even more enjoyable if you read the book.
________________________________
1. Of course, Hammett may not be quite the fellow you thought he was, either -- but he sure could write.

2. Lorre's apophasis-by-mime and his portrayal of a reasonably competent criminal -- Spade appears to take Joel Cairo more seriously than he does the well-armed gunsel Wilmer -- is quite impressive.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Steak. Potatoes. Salad. There It Is.

     I mowed the lawn yesterday.  All of it. I uprooted the little winter-killed (but fragrant) rosemary bush, too. Tam took the weed-whacker to the spots that wanted trimming after her online work was done.  And for that, we had a reward coming:

     Grilled steak.  Tam found a couple of massive filet mignons; I set 'em out and started up the grill with wadded paper, a little step-pyramid of twigs, a mound of hardwood charcoal -- and layered some rosemary twigs in it to see how that would smell.

     It smelled fine so I set some aside, added more charcoal, and went in to nuke some big potatoes.  Noticed we had a nice crop of chives already (they're essentially a weed around here, so that's unsurprising.  Tam's original planting comes back bigger every year), so I grabbed a generous handful on the way.

      Once the potatoes had been decently microwaved and the coals were well on their way, I wrapped the spuds in two layers of foil with salt, pepper, butter and lot of snipped chives and took them out to the grill where I spread out the coals, added more rosemary on them, laid the (washed) grate down and stashed the potoes in the corners. Lid down and locked.

     The steaks got salt and pepper and I butterflied mine -- they were over 2" thick!  I took mine out and started it; three minutes later, Tam's went on (that's one medium, one rare).  I put a bit more rosemary on the fire, too. Turned the steaks every three minutes while making up the salad (used up the remaining chives in it), and when they were about done, added a pat of butter to each.  (This works especially well with lean beef.)  Brought them in and let them rest while I fetched and unwrapped the potatoes, dressed the salad, etc.

     And then it was time for dinner!

     The steak smelled delicious and nearly melted in my mouth: tender, flavorful, a bit smoky, wonderful!  The chives contributed their bit to the potatoes and added a nice, subtly-different note to the salad, as well.  (Tam demolished her salad and potato -- in addition to the steak on her plate.)

     I'll have to find a good place to hang up that dried rosemary bush for later -- I'll be using that stuff again.

     There would have been photos but....  It demanded eating, pronto!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Well, That Was Fun. Or, In Fact, Not.

    My little Biorhythm Destruction Experiment is now over -- as far as I know -- and what an interesting end it has had.

     Friday, I learned I'd been working from an older version of the schedule and should have been coming in at 3:00 (a.m or p.m., depending) instead of 3:30 the whole time;  this should be a no harm-no foul issue but could in fact bite me if someone with an office decides I need bit.  Swell.

     Also Friday, I got to do something I really dislike: drive on the freeway, mostly the off- and on-ramp-heavy, not-a-whole-loop of the inner Collusion Of Interstates.  In an unfamiliar vehicle.  At night.  Now, these are all things I can do and it wasn't a huge long trip, fifteen miles to drop a guy off at his much bigger truck and fifteen miles back. There are plenty of streetlights to make up for my iffy night vision and my awareness of the limited visual field caused by eyeglasses correction for extreme nearsightedness helps me "keep my head on a swivel," trying to compensate.  Even the "unfamiliar vehicle" is nice little sport-utility, well-maintained and almost unbelievably zippy compared to my elderly Hyundai Accent.  The trouble is that none of these things get me to liking it, nor do they lessen the intensity of my grip on the steering wheel.  After a quarter-hour or so, I have to keep reminding myself to periodically unpeel my whitened knuckles from the wheel one hand at a time and shake to restore circulation.  I keep flinching -- but only in my shoulders! -- when some car merges in from the thicket of construction cones on an on-ramp I'd overlooked.
     It's not even any help reminding myself that it's as nothing compared to making the drive from Knoxville, TN at the wheel of a U-Haul box truck filled with (among other things) a whole lot of guns, towing a BMW convertible and sharing the cab with a slightly worried Tamara and two extremely fretful cats. 
     A good long sleep with a hotpad under my back has helped.

     And on that note, I go to ponder maybe a little more breakfast and a lot more yard work, overlooked these six-and-a-half days.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Gooood....Morning?

     Y'got me.  I'm still paying off a ghastly sleep debt from the past four days, rotating my awake time twelve hours around the clock for tonight's fill-in shift.  Vacation season: more stressful than non-vacation season unless you're actually on vacation yourself!  Throw in a little auto race and some major projects in the works and, well, gee.  No time to scratch?  That's Old School; anymore, you don't have time to notice you're itchy!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Scarfolk: A Bit Of Odde England

     Here in the States -- somewhere, someplace desert-y -- we've got Night Vale.  On the other side of the water, there's...something different.  A blog, not a podcast; a shifted paradigm and yet -- if Night Vale's got a sister city, it must surely be the UK's Scarfolk.  To their mutual horror and admiration.

    Check it out. If you dare.  They're standing firm against the scourge of children and foursquare for the social goodness of all-encompassing surveillance.  Don't say you weren't warned!  For further information, reread this posting.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

George Orwell's Animal Farm

     You thought you knew what the book was about?  MSNBC is repeating their notion that it's really about Greedy Capitalists™

     Greedy capitalists like Michael Bloomberg, y'think?  George Soros?  Maybe?

     Flamethrower-level stupid.  This is why I don't blog so much about politics so much any more -- that much deliberate misapprehension is toxic in close proximity. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Farewell, Jeffro, And Godspeed

     The world is a little bit less today -- Jeff Borland, known to the blogosphere as Jeffro, passed away yesterday.

     He was a good guy, treated by the Fates with undue harshness in recent years.  I miss him already.

Omigawd-Dark-Thirty

     It comes way early.  It creeps up on little cat feet, concealing claws the size of an eagle's talons, cruel and merciless and disinclined to allow dawdling on the Internet or over TV reruns.  In the dark and chill, it demands I pretend day is dawning  and later extracts revenge by leaving me hovering on the verge of sleep -- neither here nor there, unawake and yet not napping.

     And tomorrow, I'll get to do it again.  If it weren't for the chance of at least two breakfasts a day, it wouldn't be worth it.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Read The Fine Print

     The Mexican Mole Lizard has a somewhat disappointed expression, and no wonder-- Picture it, the Day Before Creation, all the little blob-like proto-critters receiving their assignments: the Pink Fairy Armidillo has already got hers, and is bobbing up and down with excitement, imagining tutus and magic wands rather than a career spent eating bugs in the desert.  Now the Hand of Fate turns to the next one, holding a contract.
     "Oh, wow!  I'll be a sleek, partially scaled critter, with hands and arms and a long tail and a kinda-handsome, person-like face?  I'll be under the surface most of the time?"  He signs with alacrity, and turns to the puggle-to-be beside him, "Dude!  I'm gonna be a merman!"

     Well, no; you see, Bipes biporus, the Mexican Mole Lizard doesn't even get to be a snake that can open doors (and thank goodness for that: "Bing-bong, mole lizard calling!"  No thanks). They're about the size of a large pencil, and hunt for scaled-down edibles underground.  They do have convenient little forelimbs -- and a permanent expression of mild chagrin.

Radio Theatre, Late Modern Style

     Samuel R. Delany's The Star Pit was produced as a radio play in the 1960s, starring the young writer himself.  One of the genuinely interesting things produced by Pacifica (WBAI, in this case) long before their recent descent beyond ordinary way-out-there-ness into ineffectual craziness.

Dinner For Breakfast Or Breakfast For Dinner?

     I'm not sure; with my days turned upside-down, I made another batch of Eggs Pomodoro, this one with chorizo and "sweet Italian" chicken sausage, mushrooms, green onions and half a Serrano pepper in the tomatos and tomato sauce.  Plenty of basil, rosemary, parsley and Italian seasoning, plus a tiny bit of garlic and celery seed, resulted in a very tasty sauce in which to poach the eggs.

     Tam likes everything but the eggs, which left one for me to take into work for lunch with a little more of the sauce.   

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Long Slog

     I went into work -- North Campus -- a little after midnight.  I'm still at work (Main Campus) now and I'll be here until at least ten a.m.

     Oh, what fun!  But I did (with the help of a skilled tower worker) get one long-awaited task accomplished, so there is that.  And I'm considering some kind of Broad Ripple breakfast for my dinner.

     Whups, my five minutes are up!  Smoko's over.  See ya later.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

I'm Sleeping In

     I have got to walk my working hours around the clock this week, starting with a 12-hour day, four days of Zero-Dark-Thirty to noon and ending with an early-teatime-to-midnight shift.  I already have a huge sleep debt and I've got to get it paid down before I even think about anything else.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Overheard, Poorly

RX (walking in to VFTP/TAORX C3I with a plate of nice slices of orange fruit): "Look, Tam: Minneola Tangelo!  Nature's candy!"

Tam (deep into some kind of Quest or Adventure involving Orgs and/or Mujahideen who may or may nor have set us up the bomb): "What?  'Maya Angelou is Nature's candy?'"

RX: "Yes, Tam.  Yes she is."

I'm Tired

     I'm tired of a lot of things.  I'm tired of idiots.  I'm tired of BS.  I'm tired of doctors who can't be arsed to write up and fax a simple referral so my Mom can get the care she needs when she needs it, instead of when her surgeon has to cancel because she's got problems obvious to even his diagnostic skills.

     I'm tired of numb-nuts and riders of the drama llama; I'm tired of shallow morons and ponderous, amateur intellectuals; I'm even tired of real intellectuals.  I'm tired of culture wars, culture warriors, and I'm tired of "happy warriors" who leap into the fray yelling at me to follow when I wasn't even in the battle. I'm damned tired of the yahoos that dance along the sidelines, yelling variations on "Let's you and him fight!  Fight!  FIGHT!" with blood in their eye and the foresight of a mayfly.  You people are sucking all the beauty, joy and fun out of life and you're not even drinking the juice.  A pox on all of yez, a murrain upon your cattle, bit-rot on your hard drives and premature switch failure on your keyboards.  I'll read what I like, I'll judge it by any criteria that damn well appeal to me -- literary merit, authorial politics, personality, entertainment value, cover art and/or sheer whim -- and bedamned to anyone who demands I do otherwise, a damnation now threatening, from sheer frustration and annoyance, to spill over onto those who merely request or suggest criteria for evaluating SF to me.

     I'm tired of working in a business that is circling the drain, all the while shrieking, "Things are better than ever!" as profits shrink, paychecks shrink in terms of real-world buying power for everyone outside of top management, staffs shrink and they tell you you're such a valuable team member but never replace equally-valued staffers who die, retire or manage to quit.  They're replacing us all with robots and ever-sloppier standards and what worries me -- of all things -- is that they probably can't do it quickly enough to stay afloat long enough for me to reach retirement age, even if my job manages to dodge elimination or outsourcing until the bitter end.

     I'm tired of headaches, of gnawing pain inside the bones of my face that no reputable kind of doctoring can diagnose and the quacks* can't cure.  I'm sick of bad knees and fading hearing, of tinnitus and tiredness and slowing reactions.

     I'm tired of two-faced politicians.  I'm tired of empty-headed politicians.  I'm tired of self-appointed pundits who can't distinguish between incompetence, idiocy and evil and I'm tired that they appear to be our only choices at the ballot box. I'm tired of religious people and I'm tired of atheists, neither of which have, in the aggregate, very good STFU skills. I'm tired of tone-deaf partisan shills.  I'm tired of being embarrassed by Ted Nugent, who can't keep his feet out of his mouth or find graphic artists who can properly spell "Ammendment" on posters touting his speech at the NRA AM.  I'm plenty tired of professional PR shill Shannon Watts and her phoney-baloney claim to speak for "Mothers."  (Does she even have kids?).  I'm tired of legislators and of legislative alerts.  Stop inventing new crimes, dammit! I'm tired of overpriced .22 ammo and I'm tired of being too tired to go bust caps on my days off.

     And I am damn tired of bad weather.  Spring has hardly crept from its den, bringing cold rain and nights so chill I've had to turn the furnace back on.

     Need some better stuff.  Soon.

_____________________________________
* See "NICO," who was also -- and with nearly equal levels of controversy -- a singer who performed lead vocals on the Velvet Underground's first album.  Hunh.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Snow In Late April?

 Nope.

My Mom Is Back In The Hospital

     Mom went in for some routine surgery -- as much as surgery is ever routine -- but the surgeon took a look at her and sent her to the ER.  She'd been bothered by persistent dizziness and had been trying to get a neurology referral.  Mission accomplished on that, anyway, and while she's in hospital, they'll make sure she gets food she can eat.

     Keep her in your thoughts, please.